As the year comes to a close, so too will the current terms of many Cheshire elected officials.
That includes one long-serving member of the Board of Education who, on Nov. 18, said her goodbyes.
Kathryn Hallen, the former chair of the Board who has served for eight years, chose not to run for re-election in 2021, making this her last term on the BOE. At the Nov. 18 Board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan acknowledged Hallen and her years of service to the community, remarking that he considered her a friend as well as a trusted member of the group.
“I’ve often publicly stated that, despite my regular attendance at Cheshire Board meetings since 2005, I never fully understood the commitment a Board of Education makes until I became Superintendent of Schools in 2016,” he began. “The time and emotional energy required by a member is trying, even in the best of times. Kathryn Hallen was first appointed to the Board in December 2013. Over the past eight years, she has navigated the incredible highs and challenging lows that come with leadership.”
Solan commented on her year-long position as chairwoman from 2018-2019, and all that she accomplished during that time.
“She has been a fierce advocate (for students’ education) over her tenure,” he continued. “On a personal note, I can’t thank her enough for the support that she gave me as a superintendent and human being, through some of the most difficult times I have ever experienced.”
Hallen thanked Solan and the rest of the Board for their cooperation and friendship.
“I have spent the last eight years really amazed at the staff that we have in the Cheshire school system, from Dr. Solan and his team in the Central Office to every building administrator, every teacher, the maintenance staff, nurses and psychologist … the list is endless,” she said. “All I know is that every school I’ve gone into, every program I’ve seen, has been just so impressive. Our kids are benefiting from this amazing group of people every single day and it has been a true honor, for me, to advocate for teachers and the administrators and everyone that works here. …”
Hallen mentioned that, even with the past year’s challenges, including remote learning through a pandemic, Cheshire students have found a way to persevere. Hallen also took the time to acknowledge Samantha Rosenberg, a fellow Democrat who won her first term to the Board in November and who will be taking Hallen’s seat in the new term.
“I am sure that Sam Rosenberg … will do a fabulous job,” she said.
“It has really been a pleasure and a privilege to work with all of you,” she continued, once again addressing the full Board. “Thank you so much for the opportunity.”
Chairman Tony Perugini thanked Hallen for her service, and, while acknowledging their differences of opinion, lauded her for her dedication to local education.
“I am sure the members of this Board and our educators are well aware of your commitment (to the Board) over the years,” he started. “… While we don’t always agree, Kathryn has always been a professional, and always been a staunch supporter for doing the best we can for students, staff, and for the Board. She has worked incredibly hard on a number of things, and as chair she dealt with some very difficult situations, and led the Board through that.”
Perugini commented on how fast Hallen’s eight years have flown by, and how he recalls her first day on the Board as if it were yesterday.
“I’m sure it feels differently for you, but I am amazed at how fast eight years have gone by,” he added. “I will miss you for sure. You cannot be replaced. Sam (Rosenberg) will do a great job, but you leave behind a really good legacy, and you should take pride in knowing that. …”
Ann Harrigan commented on their long years of friendship and camaraderie as the two lone Democrats on the Board.
“You know how I feel about you,” she said. “But what is most impressive is the way, over the years, you have really supported the system that is Cheshire Public Schools. In my opinion, that’s what Boards of Education are supposed to do, so thank you for your service for these past eight years.”